This post is my second blog in the category: horse-riding holiday favourite photo. The posts in this category will introduce you to the equines who star in my equestrian travel books.
The photo on the left was snapped by Maryanne Stroud, the host of my life-changing horse riding in Cairo, Egypt. On this trip, I had the privilege of being given the beautiful Jameela to ride. This brown Anglo Arab mare took care of me every hoof stride of the way as we galloped out in the vast Sahara Desert.
At the beginning of November 2012, I had a life-changing horse-riding holiday in the enchanting land of Egypt. The trip was my second horse-riding holiday so I still only had limited recent experience of riding out in the open countryside. The location of the photo was at the mid-point of the final ride on Jameela. Though tired and sore from a day ride the previous day, I had ridden out into the Sahara for the last time to look at the sarcophagus we stand beside. Soon after, Jamella would have done a brief celebratory jig that she always does when the ride turns for home. The smile on my face and the sun capturing Jamella’s shining chocolate coat provided the icing on the cake to an inspirational and never to be forgotten trip.
Jameela is the equine star of Part 2 – Ancient and Modern in my equestrian travel book: The Horse Riding Tourist – Near and Far. I had five rides on this gorgeous mare, who stole my heart. Maryanne described her wonderful mare to me on our car journey from the airport:
‘'She is… the politest horse I have ever met. She came to me from a riding school, so she is used to the English-style of riding. Jameela takes care of her rider. On desert rides, she always checks her rider is ready to gallop by only responding to the second ask.’
My response was, 'she sounds perfect,' and Jameela was perfect. I travelled many miles out in the desert on Jamella. Throughout she behaved impeccably. She never dashed or fretted if the other horses took off in front of her. She would politely wait for the second ask to go and then respond to a half-halt to fall into a steady and rhythmic gallop. I would trust Jamella with my life.
Below is an extract from The Horse Riding Tourist – Near and Far, which narrates the final ride to the sarcophagus.
My ultimate ride had a late start, and it was close to 11:00 am when I got on Jameela. Our constant riding companion, Hassan wasn’t riding today. Instead, Maryanne and I were accompanied by Walid, who kind of drew the short straw for this week’s share of the riding. A consequence of the long ride to Dahshur yesterday is my riding muscles are tired and sore. Therefore, we had mostly walked with a few trots only. Considering, all the exciting gallops Hassan had enjoyed throughout my stay, now it was Walid’s turn he had to escort a close-to-broken rider. Maryanne made me feel better by confirming she felt sore from yesterday’s ride too. In spite of riding most days, it had been many months since she had ridden down to the lake at Dahshur.
Jameela was impeccably behaved, as always throughout the ride. Nazeer, Maryanne’s chestnut Arab, wanted to run and where he felt was a suitable hill, he held a beautiful outline with his muscles flexed ready to take off at speed. As for Lily, the bay Arab expertly ridden by Walid, Maryanne said it was a good lesson for her to complete a slow desert ride.
Though sore and mostly at a walk, we made it to the northern edge of the Dahshur district and back again. The destination was a red sarcophagus Maryanne found a few years back not far from the section of railway crossed yesterday. Aware it was my final ride in the desert on the beautiful Jameela, I’d entered determined to soak up the scenery and ignore my aching muscles. My pleasure was supported by another perfect day for riding out, uninterrupted blue sky and an ever-present breeze. The route was similar to the inbound trail ridden yesterday, close to the west sides of the Abu Sir, Sakkara, and Sakkara South pyramid complexes. There was a second opportunity to get close to the pyramid complex of Pepi II. This morning, we’d arrived from the opposite direction. From this approach, the pyramid looked bigger and had a more distinctive pyramid look. Continuing on we again crossed the railway line. Today, I’d noticed the sand and stones encompassing the tracks were stained black and grey. Situated at the base of a minor dune not far from the railway was the sarcophagus. Though intact, the sarcophagus is lidless, and whatever colour it may have been had faded to match the sand. It was also on its side so the hollow middle faced forward and the bottom was the back. Maryanne must have been in full exploratory mode when she found the sarcophagus seeing it’s in an area of shallow dunes and therefore not an object you can spot from a distance.
On the return leg, there was a wide berth away from a steep-sided dune with an occupied watchman’s hut sited at the top. The hut is square with no distinguishing features except for a flat roof. I have no idea what the men are watching for out here. Maryanne preferred to steer clear of the hut and by doing so our presence upset a wild dog. Light-tan and the size of a terrier, she guarded a hole dug into the side of the dune and barked at us with intent. Maryanne suspected there were puppies in her den. Not wanting to upset her more the horses were steered by at a distance.
After three hours of riding, we arrived back at Al Sorat Farm. I dismounted from Jameela and gave her lots of pats. She has been the perfect horse for me to ride on this trip. Jameela is and always will be a horse I could quite happily take home. Be that as it may, she wouldn’t flourish in the climate. It would be too cold and wet for this desert dwelling steed.
You can read about my full adventure with Jameela in Egypt in my non-fiction travel book, The Horse Riding Tourist – Near and Far, which describes my first four horse-riding trips to Iceland, Egypt, Great Britain, and Mallorca. For more information, click here.
You can find information on how to book a similar trip on the Egypt destination page on this website.